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Nigeria Joins Forces with World Economic Forum to Fight Plastic Pollution

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Nigeria will officially join the World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP), a platform that works with governments, businesses and civil society to translate plastic pollution commitments into concrete solutions.

The announcement emerges from a week of virtual dialogues during the Davos Agenda, a global summit where heads of state, CEOs, civil society leaders, activists and media have convened to choose bold and innovative solutions to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure a green and inclusive recovery in the years to come.

Nigeria is the largest economy on the African continent as well as home to one of the largest youth populations in the world. The pandemic has slowed economic activity in this diverse and entrepreneurial nation and contributed to a depressed labour market, creating highly challenging setbacks for human and economic development efforts.

Mismanaged plastic waste and unsustainable plastics production are commonplace in the West Africa region. Challenges include thin capacity and investment in waste collection and recycling, varying levels of awareness of sustainable practices among businesses and consumers, and the niche nature of innovative and alternative models supporting reduce and reuse. In 2018, Nigeria was estimated to have discharged around 200,000 tonnes of plastic waste into the ocean per year, while its annual plastics production is projected to grow to 523,000 tonnes by 2022.

In joining GPAP, Nigeria will work with the World Economic Forum to launch a National Plastic Action Partnership, based on a promising model that has been piloted in Indonesia, Ghana and Viet Nam. Its principal mandates will include creating and working with locally led, locally driven platforms, such as the Federal Ministry of Environment and the African Development Bank-coordinated Nigeria Circular Economy Working Group (NCEWG), to bring together the country’s most influential policy-makers, business leaders and civil society advocates. The goal is to deliver a national action plan for radically reducing plastic pollution, connecting high-potential solutions with strategic financing opportunities.

In Indonesia, the national partnership has launched action and investment roadmaps that could prevent 16 million tonnes of plastic leakage into the ocean, create 150,000 jobs, and generate $10 billion a year in revenue from investment in waste management, plastics substitution and innovative business models. Similar ambitious blueprints for action are under development in Ghana and Viet Nam and will be initiated in Nigeria on the partnership’s formal launch in early 2021.

“With this partnership, Nigeria is further reinforcing its commitments and efforts towards addressing plastic pollution and safeguarding the environment,” said Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, Nigeria’s Environment Minister. “From co-founding the African Circular Economy Alliance and establishing a Nigerian/AfDB Circular Economy Working Group to joining the Global Plastic Action Partnership, Nigeria is determined to unleash the full potential of our young generation of innovative and passionate leaders so that we can work together towards a future free of plastic pollution and waste. We look forward to strengthening our engagement with the World Economic Forum on this effort and to formally launching the partnership in the coming months.”

“Amidst the myriad economic and social challenges that nearly every nation is facing, Nigeria has recognized plastic pollution as an urgent priority that cannot be sidelined,” said Kristin Hughes, Director of the Global Plastic Action Partnership and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum. “Plastic waste and pollution are not issues that exist in a vacuum – they are deeply and intrinsically tied not only to the health of our environment but also the well-being of women and children, the livelihoods of communities and informal workers, the creation of new jobs and ways of working, and a nation’s ability to build a sustainable and thriving economy that leaves no one behind. We are honoured to support the Nigerian people in their fight to turn the tide on plastic pollution.”

Nigeria is also one of the founding members of the African Circular Economy Alliance, alongside South Africa, Rwanda, the African Development Bank, the UN Environment Programme and the World Economic Forum. The regional platform has mobilized a multi-donor trust fund of €4 million, which will fund circular economy entrepreneurs and initiatives with the potential to be replicated in African nations.

“The World Economic Forum is delighted to build on and strengthen its existing collaboration with the Government of Nigeria with this new partnership,” said Chido Munyati, Acting Head of Africa, World Economic Forum. “The transition to a circular economy will be a crucial part of Nigeria’s global recovery and addressing plastic pollution in particular will have a visible impact on its natural environment, quality of life and opportunities for young people. Through this partnership, we will see Nigeria make a clear case for why economic growth and sustainable development go hand-in-hand.”

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Humanitarian catastrophe in northern Mozambique ‘beyond epic proportions’

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A displaced woman in northern Mozambique receives food aid. © WFP/Grant Lee Neuenburg

The UN and partners are “following with deep concern” new reports of violations against civilians in northern Mozambique, the UN Spokesperson said on Thursday. 

Citing reports of atrocities carried out by child soldiers, alleged beheadings during attacks by non-State armed groups, and clashes in the Cabo Delgado region, Stéphane Dujarric told journalists at the regular daily briefing that although verifying information was extremely difficult, “we are concerned about the situation of civilians who fled the violence and those who remain in Palma”. 

The coastal town just south of the border with Tanzania, was reportedly overrun by militant extremists on 24 March, but three days ago, Mozambique’s military reported that it had regained control. 

According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), attacks in and around Palma uprooted many who had been sheltering there after having fled conflict in other parts of the province. 

Prior to that, nearly 670,000 – including some 160,000 women and adolescent girls as well as 19,000 pregnant women – were internally displaced in Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula provinces, the vast majority of them reliant on host families, whose scarce resources are being exhausted.  

On the ground 

The UN spokesperson said that nearly 12,800 people, 43 per cent of whom are children, have arrived in the districts of Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba since violence erupted.  

“Many more are expected to still be on the move in search of safety and assistance”, he added. 

Humanitarian partners in Mozambique are assisting displaced people at arrival points and scaling up the ongoing humanitarian response in Cabo Delgado. 

“So far in 2021, more than 500,000 people in the province have received humanitarian assistance”, he said. 

Humanitarians stretched 

On top of conflict in Cabo Delgado, in the first months of 2021 and prior to the Palma attacks, the humanitarian community in Mozambique was already stretched, having responded to multiple climate emergencies. 

Yet, the humanitarian appeal for the current crisis is currently just one per cent funded.  

“More resources are immediately required to meet the needs of people fleeing the violence in Palma”, underscored the UN spokesperson.   

“The United Nations calls on all parties to the conflict in Cabo Delgado to protect civilians.” 

Trapped and displaced 

Earlier in the week, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said the insurgent attack on Palma had forced at least 11,000 people to leave their homes and reportedly rendered thousands of others trapped as it “continues to work around the clock” to assist them. 

UNHCR said that its teams in Pemba were following up on worrying reports that more than 1,000 displaced people were prevented from crossing the border into Tanzania and called on Mozambique’s neighbours to provide access to territory and asylum for people escaping violence. 

This is a humanitarian catastrophe beyond epic proportions — WFP Representative

‘Saving lives’ priority 

At the same time, the World Food Programme (WFP) said that the deteriorating security situation has caused evacuation flights to be suspended and left UN agencies struggling to get into Palma with food assistance.  

“This is a humanitarian catastrophe beyond epic proportions”, said Antonella D’Aprile, WFP Representative and Country Director for Mozambique, on Tuesday.  

The UN food relief agency warned that hunger is rising in Palma, with some arrivals into Pemba saying they had not eaten for weeks. 

“People fleeing Palma are completely traumatized by the violence they’ve witnessed in the past few days, and now, more than ever, they need our help”, said Ms. D’Aprile. “Our priority is saving lives and making sure emergency assistance reaches those who need it most”.

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Ethiopia: Humanitarian situation remains ‘dire’

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Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the country's northern Tigray region, rest and cook meals near UNHCR's Hamdayet reception centre after crossing into Sudan. © UNHCR/Hazim Elhag

The humanitarian situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, remains “dire”, the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General said on Wednesday.  

“While there has been substantial improvement in humanitarian access, active hostilities have been reported in the north-western, central, eastern, south-eastern and southern zones”, Stéphane Dujarric told correspondents at a regular press briefing.  

Following months of escalating tensions between the Ethiopian Government and the dominant regional force, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive after rebels attacked a federal army base.  

Within days, militias from the neighbouring Amhara region had joined the fray, reportedly followed by some troops from neighbouring Eritrea – a long-time rival of Tigray. 

According to government forces, the region had been secured by the end of November, however TPLF resistance has continued amid accusations of extrajudicial killings and rights abuses on all sides.  

Mass displacement 

The UN Spokesperson said that some humanitarian partners have accessed the towns of Gijet and Samre, in the southern and southeastern zones.  

“They reported that most of the population in these towns has fled”, he said, adding that the Alamata-Mekelle-Adigrat-Shire road remains “partially accessible”.   

Mr. Dujarric referenced the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in saying that an estimated 2.5 million people in rural Tigray have not had access to essential services over the last five months.  

Moreover, the conflict continues to drive massive displacement across the region, with tens of thousands of people moving towards urban areas, including to Mekelle and Shire.  

“According to a recent assessment report, there could be as many as 450,000 people displaced in Shire”, he stated. 

As UN humanitarian partners scale up the response, they are grappling with capacity and resource challenges, “which remains inadequate for the estimated 4.5 million people who need life-saving assistance”, said Mr. Dujarric.

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New programme to support Kenya’s coast and blue economy

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Team Europe, together with the Governors of six coastal counties in Kenya, the Ministry of Devolution and the Blue Economy Secretariat, launched the Go Blue initiative in Kenya on March 25, 2021. The four-year programme aims to protect Kenya’s coastal ecosystems while creating environmentally friendly jobs in a host of industries, including recycling, tourism and small-scale fishing. It is designed to foster a “sustainable blue economy” in six coastal counties and generate more than 3,000 jobs for youth and women alone.

Go Blue has received 25 million euros in funding from the European Union. Four EU Member States – France, Germany, Italy, and Portugal – will provide technical expertise on economic growth, while two UN agencies – the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and  UN-Habitat – will ensure that interventions are aligned with environmental conservation and urban planning goals and that the initiative helps coastal cities and communities adapt to adverse effects of climate change.

“Our marine and coastal ecosystems are extremely valuable in terms of providing ecosystem services – with many people earning their livelihoods through them,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “Rather than depleting or polluting these resources, we must develop ways in which to harness and protect them.”

The push comes with maritime environments around the world, including those in Kenya, facing increasing pressure from climate change and pollution.  

Kenya has an abundance of untapped maritime resources along its coast. Go Blue will focus on helping coastal communities develop those resources in a way that is sustainable and that provides economic opportunities for women and youth. The initiative will bring inclusive, integrated and sustainable approaches to economic growth, while developing new work streams, like small-scale fisheries, waste recycling, aquaculture or tourism, and technical skills in blue economy sectors, strengthening value chains and tackling regional bottlenecks.

It will also promote coastal counties’ efforts to develop integrated approaches to land-sea planning and management with a focus on restoring key coastal and marine ecosystems. Lastly, the capacity of Kenya’s Coast Guard will be strengthened to safeguard ocean assets.

“Jointly working on integrated spatial planning solutions–both on land and in water–on different levels of government and with consideration to different sectors is key to achieving a sustainable blue economy,” said Maimunah Mohd. Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat.

Go Blue will be implemented in cooperation with the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani  – Kenya’s coast regional counties Economic Development Organization – together with national ministries, such as the Blue Economy Secretariat, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Kenya Coast Guard Service, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Transport and Bandari Maritime Academy.

UN-Habitat and UNEP will support the six counties in developing three methodologies:

  • an integrated, ecosystem-based land-sea planning and management framework, which will improve spatial planning
  • a regional land-sea vision to prioritize blue economy-related issues
  • mapping, data collection and analysis on spatial planning and ecosystems assessments

This will feed into each county’s GIS data lab, as well as a regional GIS data hub, to strengthen data collection and analysis on land use changes, urbanization and environmental change patterns, marine and coastal natural assets, and human activity (e.g. fisheries, tourism, waste). In addition, the project will support waste management, constructed wetlands, blue carbon, mangrove restoration, spatial planning and community empowerment.

The information and evidence from all activities will support replication in other Kenyan towns through the initiative’s online knowledge-sharing platform and trainings. Furthermore, four counties should have developed their own land-sea planning proposals as a result of the project, and six innovative activities will be funded by investors that directly contribute to the blue economy and land-sea planning.

UN Environment

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